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“Why I don’t believe in charity”?

December 3, 2010

I got an email with this title from Rajasvini Bhansali, Executive Director of IDEX, the International Development Exchange (and South Asian!).  I was quite surprised since IDEX itself IS a charity.  In fact, the email says:

You might think it strange for an Executive Director of an organization whose mission is to create lasting solutions to poverty to say, “I don’t believe in charity.”

But it’s true; I don’t.

I believe in people like Mrs. Mncube.

Mrs. Mncube is a farmer in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

I want to introduce you to Mrs. Mncube and to IDEX partner Biowatch, a powerhouse of an organization that trains community members like Mrs. Mncube on practical, low-cost cultivation methods that conserve biodiversity and ensure their food sources.

Kind of an attention-grabbing email, no?  Obviously the email worked since here I am blogging about it, and I think IDEX does some good work.  But I am a bit concerned that the attention-grabbing nature of the email comes at the expense of a poke at “charity” – kind of a Michael Edwards-style critique from me, I guess.  I just think IDEX (and other social entrepreneurship organizations out there) have to be careful about promoting a notion that charity is not worth investing in…

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